"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord must not show favoritism."
I’ve been doing some soul searching recently regarding the race issue. I’ve read some of the more recent books (or chapters from the books) on the topic: “The New Jim Crow”, “White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”, “How to Be an Antiracist”, “Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria”, “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity”, etc.) I have also participated in a discussion group of white and black people as they shared their stories, their pains, and their hopes and dreams. It has been wonderful, and it has been awful. It has been enlightening, and it has been painful. It has been embarrassing, and it has been hopeful. But above all, it has been eye-opening. Here is one thing I have realized that is, for me, at the core of it all.
I am a white man. I never think about what it means to be white. I never have to. It is all I’ve ever known. I have no idea what it means to be a black.
Black people always have to think about what it means to be black. They are confronted with it every day. They live in a world where white is the “norm”, and any person of another color is a deviation from that norm. Therefore, they are labeled, stereotyped, and mistrusted if they do not adhere to the “norm”. Since white is the norm, their culture is marginalized and largely irrelevant to white people. There’s an old saying that “the winner writes the history” and that’s been the case in America since its founding. The white people were the “winners” in the sense that they enslaved black people and therefore history is told only from a white perspective.
James Cone was an author, theologian and college professor who helped define the distinctiveness of theology in the black church, now known as “black (and sometimes “liberation”) theology”. He said that the word “integration” was a misnomer because it never really meant combining two cultures. It meant the subservient culture - as defined by systematic power - needed to become like the culture in power. Therefore, when schools were “integrated”, it meant that to be considered successful, the black children would have to become assimilated into the existing white culture, leaving huge parts of their culture behind. And the problem still confronting us in 2020 is that too many people still consider white culture the norm, and therefore judge race relations by their own expectations and worldview, dismissive of the narrative and history and heritage of African Americans.
These are difficult times because hard truths are having to be faced. Black people are tired and frustrated because of 400 years of systemic racism: slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. Many whites are, for the first time, listening and seeking to understand the issues, and beginning to face them and deal with the consequences. Some, however, continue to toe the line of prejudice and bigotry and white nationalism and all the ignorance that goes with it.
God does not show favoritism. We are called as children made in His image to not show favoritism. If someone is racist, that is absolutely their prerogative as an American. They just can’t call themselves a Christian if they are. The two are incompatible.
"Father, Open our eyes and our hearts to see beyond color and hate. In Jesus' name, AMEN."